Does customer service need to suffer during Half-Retirement?

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Half-Retiring business owners  aim to keep their business
income while working only two half-days a week. However, if the customer service
department cannot effectively function without the owner on-site, the chances of
pulling off a successful

Half-Retirement
are limited.

So, can a business owner Half-Retire without damage to the
level of customer service? The answer is no, but it depends upon how your
customer service runs. Is the customer service function an owner-centric
operation or a process and culture-centric operation? Let’s break down how each
type of a customer service operation might work.

Type issue


Owner-centric system

 

 

Culture &
Process-Centric System

Day to day requests

Handled well by the team as a result of
experience

 

 

Handled well by the team as a result of
experience + process

Special requests

Handled well by experienced team members
but poorly by new team members. This creates upward wage pressure as
only experienced team members can solve problems. Since the owner jumps
in and solves problems, employees bounce issues to him or her.

 

 

Handled well by most team members as
culture reinforces solving 100% of problems. Systems and workflows help
all employees find the best solutions.

Minor issues

Handled well by experienced team members
but poorly by some new team members. This is a talent-based system, and
only the talented new employees will thrive. Problems are either handled
incorrectly or upwardly delegated to the owner.

 

 

Handled well by most team members as
culture reinforces solving 100% of problems. Systems and workflows help
all employees find the best solutions.

Priority issues

Most issues upwwardly delegated to the
owner since this relieves the employee of any responsibility for an
issue.

 

 

If new team members cannot handle the
situation, the system upwardly delegates the issue to a more experienced
team member

Issues that could result in lost
customers

This is a neutron bomb, and all employees
know not to touch it. Let the owner deal with it.

 

 

Cultural norms instill in all employees the
urgency to retain the customer, so immediate action is taken by the
first responder

Employees’ ability to do whatever it
takes to solve problems including spending money

Since the owner is in charge of customer
service, there is no need for employees to have financial power or
decision-making power to solve problems. Employees are absolved of
responsibility by removing their power to fix problems.

 

 

The team has been granted reasonable power
and measures to retain customers. Cultural norms instill in all
employees the urgency to retain the customer , and a workflow solution
is already in place to allow for the best opportunity to retain the
customer.

 

As you can see, a customer service operation where the
owner retains process control, financial control, and final decision-making
power is handicapped. Without all the tools needed to perform at their best, the
customer service department will hinder the owner’s ability to Half-Retire.

  • You can create a high-functioning customer service
    department if you:

  • Create the right customer service culture

  • Create systems and workflows

  • Clearly communicate these processes to the team

  • Give every team member reasonable power to solve
    problems on “the first touch.”

  • Give experienced team members the same tools and power
    (including money), that you give yourself

By removing themselves from the customer service operation,
the business owner can focus their limited time on their

Picasso Work
™. We’d love to hear your success stories!

 

 

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